12-year-old delivers emotional speech on family separations: Why are they ‘so mean to us children’?
A 12-year-old girl delivered an emotional speech at a rally in Washington on Saturday decrying the Trump administration’s policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents.
“It makes me sad to know that children can’t be with their parents,” the girl, identified only as Leah, said at the “Families Belong Together” march in D.C.
“I don’t understand why they are being so mean to us children,” she continued. “Don’t they know how much they love our families? Don’t they have a family too? Why don’t they care about us children?”
“Our government also continues to separate U.S. citizen children like me from their parents every day. This is evil. It needs to stop,” says Leah, a 12-year-old girl from Miami https://t.co/jtQqiTCcms pic.twitter.com/bpfoPAW1wa
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 30, 2018
Leah’s comments came as activists gathered in cities across the country to protest the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy prioritizing prosecutions of people who cross into the U.S. illegally through Mexico.
That policy has led thousands of children to be separated from their parents at the U.S. southern border in recent months, sparking public outrage nationwide.
Encouraged by cheers from the crowd, Leah often spoke through tears to condemn the family separations as “evil.” She said that while she is a U.S. citizen, she fears that her mother, a domestic worker, could be deported from the U.S.
“I live with the constant fear of losing my mom to deportation,” she said. “ICE wants to take away my mom from me. I don’t like to live with this fear. It’s scary. I can’t sleep, I can’t study, I am stressed.”
President Trump has faced intense public and political pressure in recent weeks to end the practice of separating families. He capitulated to that pressure last week, signing an executive order allowing children to be held alongside their parents.
But exactly how that plan will be executed remains unclear. Under a 1997 consent decree, minors cannot be detained for more than 20 days. That limit does not apply to adults.
A federal judge in San Diego also ordered the government this week to move quickly to reunite migrant families that have been separated. Under that order, children under the age of 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, while older children must be reunited with their parents within 30 days.
It’s not yet clear how the Trump administration plans to meet those deadlines.
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